Review: The Moon in the Palace
The Moon in the Palace sweeps into your mind on a cloud of fantasy.
It’s a delicate balance, historical fiction. Too much of any one element and you can fall. Randel keeps the balance with a delicate hand, inserting a strong female protagonist into the Imperial court of China.
Too often (even when the figure is a known historical one) a story like that of Empress Wu comes off as too fantastic. Another Cinderella, another Disney Princess for whom the stars aligned. Mei however has to work at it. She gets burned, she learns, she takes her advantages where she finds them, and feels remorse for those she burns in turn. It’s all about survival among the Emperor’s women, sex and romance are the weapons, and all gloves are off.
The joy of the read is in the language. The slight turn of phrase that somehow just feels like China to the western mind blends seamlessly with the slight air of unreality that follows the insanely wealthy like a perfume. You can smell the disappointment, taste the scheming, hold the Imperial Palace itself in your hands like the brightly painted porcelains the Tang Dynasty is known for.
A definite must-have for the lover of Historical Fiction and Eastern cultures.